Africa e-commerce summit concludes with manifesto to boost digital economy

The inaugural Africa e-commerce conference that took place in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi concluded late Friday with delegates adopting a manifesto to inject vitality in the continent’s fast growing digital economy.

Kenya hosted the Africa e-commerce week from December 10 to 14 that was attended by ministers, industry executives, innovators, funders and researchers.

More than 2,000 delegates from 60 countries attended the Africa e-commerce summit organized by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in partnership with the African Union (AU) and the EU.

The summit adopted the Nairobi manifesto on Digital Economy and Inclusive Development in Africa which identified strategic areas that could convert the content into a robust online trading hub.

“The digital economy, including e-commerce, is proliferating in Africa, creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses to expand their market access and join value chains,” said the Nairobi manifesto.

It acknowledged that rapid growth of digital economy in Africa could carry risks like income inequalities that required sound policies and legislation to address.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in his official address at the Africa e-commerce summit it had potential to transform the continent through cross border trade, integration and job creation.

The 11 pages Nairobi manifesto spelt out nine key areas that African countries should prioritize in their quest to grow their digital economies and achieve shared prosperity.

According to the manifesto, strategic priorities that include enhancing access to finance, investments in ICT infrastructure, skills development, policy realignment and gender parity in digital literacy are key to boost electronic commerce in Africa.

“For e-commerce to make a real and sustained contribution to development, it must benefit all segments of the society: producers as well as consumers, entrepreneurs, women, girls, men and boys, persons with disabilities and those on the lowest rung of the economic ladder,” said the manifesto.

“This will require cross-cutting policy actions and new public-private partnerships. More research and better statistics are solely needed to inform such policy actions,” it added. Enditem